February 4, 2023

The City Tavern, whose roots stretch back to the Founding Fathers, is available for a new lease on the Independence Hall National Historical Park/NPS file

The National Park Service authorities, reluctant to allow facilities to stand vacant when they can bring revenue to the parks, are offering commercial leases to operations in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Independence Hall National Historical Park that include a golf course and include a restaurant.

In Delaware Water Gap, Cliff Park Inn and Golf Course, south of Milford, Pennsylvania along State Route 2001, is offered for leases of up to 60 years, while Dingman’s Dutch Reformed Church in Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, along the US, offered Highway 209, is offered under a term of 10 years.

“Leasing is a preferred use of historic buildings and land at the park because it provides for occupancy, maintenance and preservation, and can also generate revenue that goes back into maintaining the historic properties and administering the leasing program,” said Water Gap Superintendent Doyle sapp. “However, it is a complex process that requires extensive oversight by the NPS and often significant engagement from the lessee.”

The Cliff Park lease includes a hotel, restaurant, nine-hole golf course and associated outbuildings on 50 acres. NPS accepts proposals to rent entire property; to lease the golf course and outbuildings solely; or to lease the entire property plus an additional house and garage on an adjacent 2 acre lot. Renters may use the property for commercial or residential purposes, provided such use is consistent with federal, state, and local laws. Renter must maintain and operate Cliff Park Golf Course as a golf course. Renter is responsible for the cost and performance of all repairs, replacements and improvements necessary for the occupancy of the buildings, including items such as roof replacement, septic tank replacement, carpentry repairs and addressing fire and life safety code issues.

The lease for Dingmans Dutch Reformed Church includes a church and coach house on 0.5 acres. The church is currently used as a residential building and can continue to be used as such. The coach house, currently used as an antique shop, can be used for trading or storage purposes. The tenant must pay for all utilities and perform routine maintenance, and NPS retains responsibility for repairing or replacing major components of the buildings and property such as roofs and heating systems.

Rental offers are evaluated by total value. Evaluation criteria include the compatibility of the proposed use of the property with respect to the conservation, protection and visitor-friendliness of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area; how well the proposed use would protect the historic qualities of the property; and the financial capacity of the bidder to meet the rental conditions.

Rental offers are also evaluated according to the amount of rent offered. State regulations require that the tenant pay at least the market rent, as determined by a local market analysis and specified in the listing for each property. Certain repairs or replacements made by the renter may be offset against the rent paid. Any repair or refurbishment work must be carried out in accordance with the Department of the Interior’s standards for the treatment of historic properties. These standards can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1739/secretary-standards-treatment-historic-properties.htm.

Information on the properties, rental conditions and information on submitting an offer can be found under https://www.nps.gov/dewa/learn/management/leasing-of-buildings.htm. Cliff Park proposals must be submitted by March 25, 2023 and Dingmans Dutch Reformed Church proposals by March 25, 2023. Site visits by appointment only are at Cliff Park on February 7th and Dingmans Dutch Reformed Church on February 8th. To request an appointment for a site visit or to ask questions about the leasing process or property, send an email Write us an eMail.

At Independence Hall, the Park Service is looking for a tenant for the City Tavern at 138 South 2nd Street, Philadelphia. The Tavern is a 15,100-square-foot restaurant facility in the park.

The original City Tavern was a favorite meeting place of the Founding Fathers and the unofficial meeting place for the First Continental Congress. Originally built in 1773 and demolished in 1854, the National Park Service built a replica of the building as a working tavern in 1975.

Run for many years by Executive Chef Walter Staib, City Tavern offered a colonial themed restaurant and tavern atmosphere with American Colonial style food. The RFP does not require a continuation of an 18th-century dining experience. However, the operation should have character, attract a diverse audience, and serve both the surrounding community and visitors to the park.

Details of this opportunity can be found on this page. All proposals under this call must be received by 4:30 p.m. on March 27, 2023.

Four of Gettysburg's historic battlefield homes are available for rent.  NPS photo

Four Gettysburg historic battlefield homes are available for rental/NPS file

Pennsylvania also has a number of options at Gettysburg National Military Park. There, the National Park Service (NPS) Historic Leasing Program offers an innovative approach to conservation, using private funds to preserve historic buildings for future generations. Gettysburg National Military Park has four historic battlefield buildings that are available for short-term vacation rentals (AirBNB/VRBO style).

These properties are located in the heart of the battlefield, close to famous targets like Little Round Top, Devil’s Den and The Wheatfield. They offer a unique opportunity to provide visitors with an immersive lodging experience while remaining open to the general public and raising revenue to support conservation efforts throughout the park. Structures include:

  • Bushman Farmhouse: Located within sight of Little Round Top, Confederate Major General John Bell Hood’s division occupied the property on July 2, 1863, with up to 7,000 Confederate soldiers passing through the farm on their way to attack the Union position at Little Round Top, Devils Den and the Wheatfield.

  • Slyder Farmhouse: Located just south of Devil’s Den, this property was occupied by elements of the Second United States Sharpshooters on July 2, 1863, turning it into a formidable defensive position. These Union soldiers held their position until that afternoon, when a deadly battle ensued with Alabamaans and Texans pushed back by Evander Law’s and Jerome Robertson’s Confederate brigades and Union troops.

  • Rose Farmhouse: Located on Emmitsburg Road, Rose Farm gained tragic notoriety as the “bloodiest farm” in American history when up to 20,000 men fought over the fields for three hours on the afternoon of July 2, 1863. Forests and ridges around the house. Up to 6,000 men were killed, wounded or captured, turning the once peaceful estate into a scene of “devastation, desolation and death”.

  • Althoff Farmhouse: Located just east of Devil’s Den, this farmhouse was built shortly after the battle. On July 2, 1863, the then-existing blockhouse was occupied by Confederate troops who harassed Union soldiers until six members of the 6th Pennsylvania Reserve volunteered to take the house and drive out the Confederates. In 1897 these six men were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism.

This rental opportunity is open to all interested individuals and companies on a competitive basis. The proposal judged the best according to the proposal selection criteria will be given an opportunity to negotiate a final lease agreement acceptable to both the selected vendor and NPS. Those interested in this opportunity can access the call for proposals and other required information online at https://www.nps.gov/gett/getinvolved/do-business-with-us.htm.

Proposals must be submitted electronically to Deanna Harrison (email us) no later than March 27, 2023 and should include Tender “Gettysburg” in the subject line.

Site visits can only be scheduled by appointment between January 30 and March 6, 2023 and must take place between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bidders must submit questions no later than March 6, 2023. All replies will be sent in writing and made available to all bidders by publication on the website mentioned above. Please contact Deanna Harrison (via email) to arrange site visits and ask any questions. We anticipate that the evaluation of the proposals and negotiations will take 6-8 weeks and that the effective rental date will be on or around 1st June 2023.

The call for proposals is also available at https://sam.gov/opp/397a7c94b3e149ce82b6d3947f5c3c8b/view and information about Gettysburg National Military Park is available at https://www.nps.gov/gett. For information about travel and tourism in the Gettysburg area, visit Destination Gettysburg at https://destinationgettysburg.com/.

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